Ramucirumab as Second-Line Treatment in Patients With Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Analysis of REACH Trial Results by Child-Pugh Score

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Abstract

Importance

REACH is the first phase 3 trial to provide information on hepatocellular cancer (HCC) in the second-line (postsorafenib) setting categorized by Child-Pugh score, a scoring system used to measure the severity of chronic liver disease. This exploratory analysis demonstrates the relationship between a potential ramucirumab survival benefit, severity of liver disease, and baseline α-fetoprotein (αFP).

Objective

To assess treatment effects and tolerability of ramucirumab by Child-Pugh score in patients with HCC enrolled in the REACH trial.

Design, Settings, and Participants

Randomized, double-blind, phase 3 trial of ramucirumab and best supportive care vs placebo and best supportive care as second-line treatment in patients with HCC enrolled between November 4, 2010 and April 18, 2013, from 154 global sites. Overall, 643 patients were randomized and included in this analysis; 565 patients considered Child-Pugh class A (Child-Pugh scores 5 and 6) and 78 patients considered class B (Child-Pugh scores 7 and 8).

Interventions

Ramucirumab (8 mg/kg) or placebo intravenously plus best supportive care every 2 weeks.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Overall survival (OS), defined as time from randomization to death from any cause.

Results

In the randomized population of 643 patients (mean [SD] age, 62.8 [11.1] years) in this analysis, a potential ramucirumab OS benefit was observed for patients with a Child-Pugh score of 5 (hazard ratio [HR], 0.80; 95% CI, 0.63-1.02; P = .06) but no apparent benefit for patients with Child-Pugh scores of 6 or 7 and 8. In patients with baseline αFP levels of 400 ng/mL (to convert ng/mL to μg/L, multiply by 1.0) or more, a ramucirumab OS benefit was significant for a score of Child-Pugh 5 (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.43-0.87; P = .01) and Child-Pugh 6 (HR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.42-0.98; P = .04), but was not significant for Child-Pugh 7 and 8. The overall safety profile of ramucirumab, regardless of Child-Pugh score, was considered manageable. Regardless of treatment arm, patients with Child-Pugh scores of 7 and 8 experienced a higher incidence of grade 3 or higher treatment–emergent adverse events, including ascites and asthenia, and special-interest events, including liver injury and/or failure and bleeding, compared with patients with Child-Pugh scores of 5 or 6.

Conclusions and Relevance

In unselected patients, a trend for ramucirumab survival benefit was observed only for patients with a Child-Pugh score of 5. In patients with baseline αFP levels of 400 ng/mL or more, a ramucirumab survival benefit was observed for Child-Pugh scores of 5 and 6. Ramucirumab had a manageable toxic effect profile. These results support the ongoing REACH-2 study of ramucirumab in patients with advanced HCC with underlying Child-Pugh A cirrhosis and baseline αFP levels of 400 ng/mL or more.

Trial Registration

clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01140347

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